Monday, November 17, 2014
Unspoken truth about Selling at Zalora
I was very excited because Zalora is somewhat of a big name and quite a number of people are aware of the said website. I felt a great honor when their marketing executive contacted me and wanted to meet with me and carry our brand.
After discussing all the benefits and what the contract entails, I was very excited and my answer is a 101% yes. *I won't be disclosing details of the contract*
Alas! This amazing opportunity is finally at my grasp when I officially said yes and signed the contract (I appreciated the marketing executive a lot because she was very understanding and flexible in scheduling the training and all)
On-boarding was okay, we spent few hours learning the seller center which is where sellers upload pictures, stocks, descriptions etc. Now my shop is ALL SET.
I tried to check in with the seller center every so often until I got tired because nobody was ordering. It dawned upon me - how will customers know your existence just by visiting zalora? (the answer is they won't).
Days, weeks, months went buy and I'm happy to report that there are customers who bought almost everyday but the sad thing was, far from what I expected, there was not much of a market in Zalora since they don't know your brand, the question still remains - "how will they search your brand if they don't know you exist?"
During the training a lot of promises or rather "promising" words were let out and we (or at least I) had the impression or inkling that somehow zalora will look for a way to promote new brands or make your brand known (well nothing like that happened haha).
The things I said above are arguably dependent on situation, your product, sales that season or what customers in Zalora are looking for, but the things I will expound on below are quite different.
Here's the process you go through when you are a marketplace seller. What happens is, you are informed when somebody orders (thru email/sellercenter). The next thing you have to do is set the status to ready so that someone will come in the next day and pick up the items then after which they deliver it to the customer/s - all well and simple. The problem is (and mind that this happened more than thrice already) sometimes, well a lot of times, it takes more than 2 days before the courier actually picks up the items at our place. Literally, I have shipment plastics piling up and falling down because (just this week) it took FIVE FREAKING DAYS before the courier picked the items up. Just imagine what the buyers feel while waiting for their delayed package.
As we all know, Zalora offers such flexible terms when it comes to shopping like free returns (YES FREE RETURN NO MATTER WHAT YOUR REASON IS) and Cash on Delivery. While these privileges are great when you're the buyer, it's not good when you're the seller (like me). Why?
1. CASH ON DELIVERY.
While this item seems harmless to us and you ask (what's the problem? instead of bank transfer or Credit card payment we just pay when we receive the item) well yes that's fine when it's simply stated like this but the problem here is, since the customer did not pay for the item yet, they could reject it or not show up at all when the delivery comes in because they changed their minds or something. The item gets returned to Zalora and sellers have to pay a shipping fee so that these items will be returned to us. (don't even mention the mess up in our inventory and the waste of a perfectly good item because we won't be getting it back for more than a month or so!)
2. FREE RETURN - No matter what the reason is
Again, while this is great for the consumers, and in an ideal world where customers are decisive and reasonable - I'm also okay with this. It's fine if customers return it because it is damaged or the size is wrong but what the hell! Sometimes the reason for return is (test deliver) What?! I've wasted time making the item, printing the waybill info (well with that being said, ink is expensive!), and packing the item!
I'll give you a sample scenario of why I think Free return is a problem:
Customer A buys an item from Zalora under Shop ABC - click click click, CHECKOUT! after that the customer continues to browse and sees something he/she likes better - being indecisive as we are humans, this customer decides to wait for the item to be delivered and when he/she gets the item, he/she will return it (well what the hell, it's easy to return cause it's free!) and purchase the other item they want. While reading this you may think, what's wrong with this? Well what's wrong here is, it's a bunch of hassle for the sellers like me. Aside from wasting our inventory, we have to pay a shipping fee so that the items will be returned to us. Also we don't get the returned items right away! I've waited for more than 2 months now and most of the returned items are not yet with me - talk about waste of inventory.
What happens now?
I'm still part of Zalora and while we are allowed to terminate the contract any time, I think I'll stick around just until the end of my contract.
I don't feel that it's worth it. I expected a whole lot more from Zalora and they did not live up to my expectations. The simple fact that items purchased lies for up to 5 days in our place waiting to be picked up feels so sloppy. I'm letting you in a big secret, you won't earn much either - I get a whole lot more sales in my own online shop than on Zalora (like a week = 1 month in zalora). I'm not sure if it's just pumped up flowery words but they mentioned that I was one of the top sellers last month and I was very surprised because I felt like the sales was disappointing.
Am I saying don't sell with them? Not at all. I just want you to be informed. It's a good experience and if you want to, go ahead and try it out. This is just my experience, maybe it'll be different for you ;)